Denise Goldberg's blog

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Looping east

Oh! it was another good day, a long one too. I thought we'd be back while the sun was still shining, but in spite of an early start we finished our drive "home" in the dark. I suppose I should start at the beginning though...

We drove a big loop, from Las Vegas, north & east to Valley of Fire State Park, south & west to Hoover Dam (through part of the Lake Mead National Recreation area, then finishing by heading north & west, back to Las Vegas. I think it was well worth the driving time because it was really beautiful. (Of course I can say that because I wasn't driving, Denise was! But she agrees with me.)

The window in our room faces to the east so we had a gift to start our day, streaks of pink and orange reaching across the horizon, sunrise colors. Denise got her wish too, the sky was decorated with clouds for a good part of the day. It was gray, there were patches of blue, more blue, and then... a fabulous sunset. We enjoyed that one from the car.

Let's see, we started at Valley of Fire State Park. We drove, we stopped, we walked. We enjoyed the very red rocks interspersed with sections of lighter colors, yellows, whites. Ground squirrels played hide-and-seek; too bad they didn't want to pose for photos! At one point while we were walking on the White Domes trail I heard a loud rumble, and Denise heard it too. Uh oh! I wonder if that was thunder? At that point the sky wasn't wearing thunderstorm colors, but we were at the end of a 5 mile long road that dipped into washes that were all signed to tell us they were "prone to flash flooding". Yikes! I hope that wasn't thunder. We heard another crack a bit later too, no rain though.

As we exited the eastern side of the park we entered the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. The reds disappeared for a bit, and the landscape took on a corrugated look, browns decorated by clumps of green. Occasionally a view of the lake would pop up. We drove and drove. We stopped at an overlook to find the water decorated by reflections in the afternoon light. Nice! Our next stop was Boulder Beach for a walk along the shore. We had a few conversations with the sea gulls, and Denise played with her camera for a bit.

Our final stop of the day was Hoover Dam. Luckily Denise chatted with the volunteers at Valley of Fire about stopping there; they told her not to drive across the new bridge. One of the people there did that after the bridge opened, and she said she had to drive seven miles past the end of the bridge before she found a place where she could turn around. Oops! Good for us though; Denise knew to take the Hoover Dam exit. That felt a little odd because the road seemed to snake under the new road for a bit. We stopped before the dam to walk on the new bridge. We climbed up and up a seemingly never-ending set of stairs. But if you didn't want to take the stairs there was also a switch-backed ramp at a shallow angle to accommodate wheelchairs. Climbing stairs, walking or rolling up a ramp, either ended on a pedestrian walkway on the Hoover Dam side of the bridge. Oh! That was a nice view. But Denise said she really wanted to walk on the dam so she could see the bridge. And that's what we did!

Wow - that bridge is really amazing. It's very tall, almost 900 feet above the Colorado River, apparently one of the highest bridges in the world. And it's a single arch. Oh! It's very pretty.

Denise said she thinks that some of you might want to see some bridge photos, so I just went looking to see what I could find.

If you're interested in the bridge, click here to read the NPR story Hoover Dam Bypass Bridge Prepares For Travelers. The article includes a few photos to decorate the words.

Do you want to see a few photos from late in December when the bridge was very much still under construction? Click here. Don't stop after you've enjoyed the photos in the first post; scroll down a bit further for a few more construction photos.
I think it's time for me to call it a night. I'm tired; I'd bet Denise is too!
--- Rover